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Protest At Historic Ash Site Forces Planning Deferral

Published on: 22 May, 2021
Updated on: 26 May, 2021

Cllr Carla Morson (left) with other protesters at Ash Manor.

By David Reading

Campaigners turned out in force on Tuesday (May 18) to oppose plans to build 73 homes near Ash Manor, the ancient moated manor house in Ash Green. They consider the site to be of immense value to Ash Green’s heritage and rural character.

The 250-year-old oak tree that local residents want to preserve

A 250-year-old oak stands on the land which is rich in wildlife. The area is also regarded as a vital buffer between Ash Green and Ash, without which the villages would merge.

The 75-strong gathering, on the edge of land earmarked for the development, coincided with a site visit by members of the borough council planning committee including Conservative ward councillors Paul Spooner and Graham Eyre (both Ash South & Tongham).

Active Ash Green Residents Association (Agra) campaigner Sue Wyeth-Price (left) was there…

They were to make their decision on Thursday but the application was deferred after the Ash Green Residents’ Association (Agra) submitted “a wealth of new information”, said Spooner.

The Bewley Homes’ original plans had met strenuous objections from Tongham and Ash Parish Councils.

As was Matt Furniss (right) the recently re-elected Conservative county councillor for Shalford division, which includes Ash Green.

With the crowd of protestors were Carla Morson, in her new dual roles as an Independent Ash parish councillor, and Lib Dem county councillor, as well as Matt Furniss (Con, Shalford), Surrey cabinet member for highways, and Conservative parish councillor Ed Schofield.

Rev’d Neil Lambert, vicar of St Mary’s at Ash Vale was there

Last year, the developer had been granted approval but in December 2020 a High Court judge overruled the council because a planning officer’s report “seriously and materially” misled the planning committee.

The Bewley Homes’ original plans had met strenuous objections from Tongham and Ash Parish Councils.

The final report to the committee had not explicitly directed councillors to give added weight about potential harm to the heritage assets of Ash Manor.

Ash Green residents make their message clear.

An Agra statement said: “We were delighted to see so many local residents at the protest. This demonstrates the strength of feeling against this development, on the site of the original Ash Green.

“Agra opposes the application at Ash Manor to protect this important heritage asset and its associated buildings, the setting and our tree.

“It is vital that the planning committee is presented with complete, accurate and unbiased information in the officer report to reach their decisions.

“There was information missing on the planning portal, some incorrect dates on documents and out-of-date information as well as other information we felt should have been made available to the committee.”

A young fan of the village oak with her mum.

The association has compiled extensive reports on heritage, ecology and drainage. Their statement added: “Whatever the result of the next planning meeting, this is not the end of our determination to fight this.”

The council has had 59 letters raising numerous objections. These include:

  • Over-development in the Ash & Tongham area;
  • Loss of trees and wildlife habitat;
  • Road safety, pollution and traffic noise;
  • Pressure on local infrastructure;
  • Flooding dangers due to a high water table;
  • Adverse impact on Ash Manor, a Grade II-listed building; and
  • Reduction of the buffer between Ash and Ash Green.

Lead councillor for Climate Change, Cllr Jan Harwood, said: “We deferred the Ash Manor planning application after receiving additional information on the day the item was on the agenda for the Planning Committee and we need time to review this. 

“The Ash Manor planning application will be considered at the next available Planning Committee.” 

See other Ash Manor stories here.

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test 2 Responses to Protest At Historic Ash Site Forces Planning Deferral

  1. Peta Malthouse Reply

    May 24, 2021 at 2:00 pm

    I don’t know if this comment is helpful at all but I will make it anyway.

    It was only last week that the High Court threw out a planning application which would have resulted in a Mulberry Tree being felled in Bethnal Green. The Court decided that in that case the planning officer had misinterpreted the Guidance on Ancient Trees.

    The report from the BBC is here.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    May 26, 2021 at 6:29 am

    Rather hypocritical of Cllr Matt Furniss to show up, given he was one of the architects of the discredited Local Plan, which allows this development application.

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